Samsung Epic 4G Review

With 4G connectivity and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Sprint’s Epic 4G outshines every other Samsung Galaxy S variant on the market.
With 4G connectivity and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Sprint’s Epic 4G outshines every other Samsung Galaxy S variant on the market.
With 4G connectivity and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Sprint’s Epic 4G outshines every other Samsung Galaxy S variant on the market.

Highs

  • Bright, colorful, glossy 4-inch AMOLED screen
  • 4G connectivity with mobile hotspot
  • 5 MP camera/720p HD video recorder
  • 16 GB pre-installed memory
  • Lightweight for its size

Lows

  • Touch controls backlighting out-of-sync with screen
  • Screen dims in sunshine
  • Lock/hold switch in camera mode
  • Occasional processor lag
  • $50 more than EVO

samsung epic 4g reviewIntroduction

In the universe of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, Sprint’s Epic 4G, may be the brightest star, and not just because it’s the only 4G model of the bunch. The Epic is shockingly light, considering it’s a third thicker than the other also abnormally lightweight Galaxy S models, because of its slideout horizontal keyboard. But that keyboard elevates Epic’s superiority over not only its Galaxy S siblings but over Sprint’s first 4G phone, the EVO 4G, to which it is more appropriate to compare.

Features and Design

At the end of August, Sprint subscribers (especially those in the 48 4G-enabled cities) will have a choice in 4G phones: HTC’s EVO and the Samsung Epic. What are the differences?

Physically, the EVO is a hair smaller all around, but weighs a half ounce more. In fact, the Epic is shockingly light considering its girth – you’ll teeter between thinking it feels cheap, and happy it’s not sagging your shirt’s breast pocket. Despite their near identical area and mass, the EVO sports a 4.3-inch LCD, while the Epic has a 4-inch super AMOLED. It’s smaller, perhaps (even though both measure 800 x 480 pixels), but certainly more colorful and brighter – except, enormously, in sunshine. Regardless of our brightness settings, in daylight, while surfing the net or framing photos, the Epic’s screen appeared to have a blue-gray filter over it. The Motorola’s Droid 2‘s display, by comparison, outshined both the sun and the Epic in side-by-side comparisons. In every other lighting condition, the Epic’s AMOLED outshines all but its Galaxy S siblings.

The Epic’s primary physical advantage over the EVO is its slide-out, four-line horizontal QWERTY keyboard with a dedicated numeric row, which you get without physical cost considering the scant size and weight difference between the two phones. The EVO does have an HDMI output jack lacking on the Epic, but it’s hard to see how a cellphone lacking HDTV connectivity would be a negative deciding factor.

No, the Epic doesn’t include a kickstand.

Feature-wise, both the EVO and Epic use 1GHz processors, and offer Android 2.1 (both will be upgradable to 2.2 at some point), although the Epic often annoyingly lagged in processing execution. Samsung’s Android implementation is slightly different, but not necessarily better than the EVO, with none of the implementation differences amounting to an advantage for either. For instance, the EVO’s applications are arrayed in Android’s original vertical screen drawer, while Samsung arrays apps across the Epic on separate horizontal screens, ala Apple’s iOS. Six of one, half a dozen of another.

samsung epic 4g reviewBoth the Epic and EVO include mobile hot spot connectivity in 4G, with the Epic offering connections for up to five devices while the EVO offers eight. The difference is unlikely to be a huge consideration. Both feature 720p HD video capture, and while the EVO shoots 8-megapixel stills compared to the Epic’s 5-megapixel imager. This is also not a difference maker. Despite the megapixel war waging in digital camera land, 5 megapixels is plenty for anything other than shooting posters or billboards, and the cheap plastic lenses on cell phone cams severely curtail the EVO’s resolution superiority.

Both feature a front-facing camera for self-portraits and Qik video chatting. Again, the EVO’s lens, at 1.3 megapixels, is statistically superior to the VGA imager on the Epic, but a megapixel imager for cell-based video chatting is overkill since you’re seeing the image on such a small screen. It might matter in the future if Qik capabilities are extended to the desktop, however.

Stylistically, the EVO is a stern, squarish black slab while the Epic has softer curves with a sleek silver perimeter ribbon between its two black halves. Did we mention how light it feels?

The Epic is $50 more, but includes a pre-installed 16GB microSD card, where the EVO comes with just an 8GB card. So, is a QWERTY keyboard and 8 additional gigabytes worth an extra $50?

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